Negotiating the Nation: Young people, national narratives and history education

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Negotiating the nation: Young people, national narratives and history education

London Review of Education special issue

From the editorial: 'Anxieties about national identity and its strengthening and preservation are common in countries around the world, and it is entirely natural that this should be so in times of great change, challenge and uncertainty’ (Létourneau and Chapman, 2015). These anxieties set the context for many discussions about history education, identity and young people’s knowledge in nations around the world (Taylor and Guyver, 2011). They are often expressed in a persistent perception, common around the world, that young people are ignorant of their country’s past, a perception that is often based on very weak or impressionistic evidence (e.g. Ball, 2013) and that is often repeated, generation after generation (Wineburg, 2004). Scholars in a number of places around the world – including one of the editors of this special issue (Létourneau, 2014) and a research team at the UCL Institute of Education (Foster et al., 2008) – have set about posing positive questions about young people’s knowledge and understanding of the past. The work of James Wertsch has been both ground-breaking and influential in providing conceptual tools for many researchers in this field – in particular, through the concept of ‘schematic narrative templates’ (Wertsch, 2002; 2008: 141-4). Research on these issues has aimed to understand the ways in which young people do think about and know and understand history, and the ways in which they do structure and organize this knowledge and understanding and not simply to identify deficits in young people’s knowledge of isolated facts. These were the areas that we set out to explore through this special issue by focusing on the multiple sources of young people’s historical knowledge, on young people as active builders of historical sense, rather than passive assimilators of materials presented to them, and on the relationships between young people, schools, identity and national, intranational, international and supranational contexts around the world.

Publication date: 1 July 2017


Guest editors

Jocelyn Létourneau (Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada) and Arthur Chapman (UCL Institute of Education, UK)


Article list

Editorial - Negotiating the nation: Young people, national narratives and history education - Jocelyn Létourneau and Arthur Chapman

Foreword to 'Negotiating the nation: Young people, national narratives and history education' - James V. Wertsch

In search of historical consciousness: An investigation into young South Africans' knowledge and understanding of 'their' national histories - Kate Angier

Making narrative connections? Exploring how late teens relate their own lives to the historically significant past - Elizabeth Dawes Duraisingh

The useful past in negotiation: Adolescents' use of history in negotiation of inter-group conflict - Tsafrir Goldberg

Why national narratives are perpetuated: A literature review on new insights from history textbook research - Maria Grever and Tina van der Vlies

'I was born in the reign …': Historical orientation in Ugandan students' national narratives - Ulrik Holmberg

History as a 'GPS': On the uses of historical narrative for French Canadian students' life orientation and identity - Stéphane Lévesque

The Swedes and their history - Hans Olofsson, Johan Samuelsson, Martin Stolare and Joakim Wendell

'We need to remember they died for us': How young people in New Zealand make meaning of war remembrance and commemoration of the First World War - Mark Sheehan and Martyn Davison

Flemish students' historical reference knowledge and narratives of the Belgian national past at the end of secondary education - Timo Van Havere, Kaat Wils, Fien Depaepe, Lieven Verschaffel  and Karel Van Nieuwenhuyse

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